Bisnis Asia

Three ways to re-fresh business relationships in Indonesia

13 September 2022 | By Helen Brown

If you are working to refresh or build a business relationship in Indonesia after more than two years of pandemic restrictions, here is what to be mindful of.


Like businesses all over the world, covid continues to impact business operations, people and technology, and this is not different in Indonesia. People are wondering how to build global growth. In a country where building a strong business relationship through communication is key, it’s worth remembering that what you do or say can affect the chances of progress, especially after a tumultuous time.


We’ve pulled together three key points from our recent short virtual session on Indonesia to help with your overseas market plans.


1. Focus on the client and how their business has changed 

The businesses that you have a connection with have likely gone through significant change and understanding how the pandemic has affected them needs to be a key focus of your Indonesia engagement.


Bisnis Asia Principal Brett McGuire (based in Jakarta) said that he’s making an even bigger effort to zone in on a client and understand what they have been dealing with.


“Don’t focus on the business opportunity itself, focus on the client.”


“So much has changed and it’s been profound. I mean even the last six months has been quite astounding at how much development there has been and what I suggest you do is focus in on the client, what’s changed for them? What are their issues? What is going well,” he said.


Brett says it simply won’t work to presume to know how your product or service is suitable.


“You need to understand them to be able to understand if you have a fit. This is not a matter of putting pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. You kind of have to figure out if you’ve got the right jigsaw piece in the first place,” he said.


On the flip side, he said that local and regional level business engagement has bounced back quickly and there is incredible transformational change taking place through the use of technology.


2. Get on a plane and stay for a week 

With many now able to travel and meet clients or assess opportunities face-to-face, it is tempting to jump in and make sure to maximise every minute of time. But that has never been the way to approach business in Indonesia and that is especially so now.


Getting on a plane is a good action for international business growth right now, however do something radical (for western businesses); leave your schedule loose and book in one to two meetings only. This will give you the flexibility to meet people again, take a different direction or be introduced to someone new.


“The reality is, if you fill up your schedule, you’re not going to even achieve your schedule because that’s not the way that business is done here,” said Brett.


It ‘s a big ask, but imagine the capacity you have to just observe the situation and meet people when the days are not jammed with meetings or expectations.


According to Brett “you’re probably going to achieve quite a lot just by doing that.”


3. Be mindful of the impact of covid and follow health behaviours 

Indonesia’s large population acutely felt the different waves of the pandemic, and this has left a mark on the nation that needs to be respected.


According to Brett “you would be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t have a family member that died last year as a result of covid.”


“That’s something to keep in the back of your mind, that covid has had a very deep impact on the nation and people and so they are not flippant about wearing masks, about social distancing and genuinely protecting health because of what they have been through.”


All travel restrictions have been lifted, but in everyday life people are required to check in and out of venues through a phone app to make sure they’ve received three doses of vaccine, and mask wearing is required indoors.


Indonesia like many other countries is keen to re-engage with the rest of the world after the past challenging years. The culture of the country drives the way that business is done, and it’s a smart move to keep this in mind when working on in Indonesia in your global growth plan.


(You can quickly test and update your business communication skills with our short online course for Indonesia)